Find out about the day-to-day tasks involved in copy editing jobs
Not all copy editing jobs are the same. Different companies have different requirements of their staff. You may find yourself working as part of a team in which each person fulfills a section of the tasks that copy editors do. Copy editing jobs at small companies may encompass a much wider range of tasks, taking in the full spectrum of the various responsibilities a copy editor has. Some are even given responsibilities that might not always be assigned to workers carrying out normal copy editing jobs. Look through this list of tasks usually expected in copy editing jobs; you may end up doing all of these at once, or you may have just some of these responsibilities.
Correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors is often the responsibility of a proofreader, so you might think it is not part of all copy editing jobs. However, while proofreaders get hold of a text immediately before publishing, copy editors engage in proofreading as soon as the writer has finished the piece. As part of this task, you will need to make sure that the length of the text fits the specification the writer was given and that the piece consistently follows the required house style guide and the dictionary.
A key responsibility of all copy editing jobs is making sure the text being edited actually makes sense. This includes straightening out any confusion in wording or phrases that could be misinterpreted. In this task, you often have to return the work to the writer for clarification. This task, in particular, requires skill and discernment—if you decide to seek a role that includes content editing as well as basic proofreading, consider enrolling in an online editing course to sharpen your editing ability.
Copy editing jobs involve a range of fact checking. You have to check that what is written is accurate. Your company may have procedures in place that require the writer to provide sources for any assertions. You will also have to make sure that none of the text has been plagiarized and that all quotes have been properly attributed.
Many publishers have a specialist picture editor, and those carrying out copy editing jobs may not see any illustrations on a piece until it is published. However, other companies have copy editors do the work of checking the copyright on an associated photo, checking for appropriateness, and writing a caption.
Copy editing jobs vary widely in their requirements for contact between the copy editor and the writer. When working on newspaper or web articles, the copy editor is usually expected to have contact with the writer. However, in book publishing the copy editor almost never has direct contact with the author.
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